SAN ANTONIO – Driven by 22 points from forward Sedona Prince, No. 6 seed Oregon Ducks advanced to the Sweet 16 on Wednesday with a 57-50 victory over No. 3 seed Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
But for Prince, emotions were raw after the game, with his thoughts bouncing back and forth between his own personal journey, to his teammates, to the attention his viral tweet attracted that highlighted the inequalities between the men’s and women’s tournament.
“[The opening game on Monday] I was extremely nervous before, because I knew a lot of people would be watching, “Prince said.” So I was nervous. But this is good. We want more people to watch, so I’ll have to get used to it. I was talking to the coaches and I was only in one before the game, but they calmed me down. My teammates huddled around me and picked me up. “
Earlier in the week, the San Antonio Spurs arrived at their home game a few miles down the road wearing jerseys from women’s basketball legends like Rebecca Lobo, Cheryl Miller and Becky Hammon.
“That’s amazing,” Prince said when asked about the Spurs’ gesture. “It’s what we want. It’s what we deserve. We work just as hard and play amazing, so we deserve as much credit as the men.”
Prince has received a great deal of attention since his tweet which was retweeted nearly 200,000 times and generated national news. But she has been an advocate for equality in college sports for more than the past week, using her surgery and injury recovery to highlight issues there as well.
“It’s amazing that I now have such a huge platform and I can inspire and help so many people and draw attention to my sport because that’s what it deserves,” Prince said.
“I hope you see that women’s basketball is not boring. It’s fun. It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s different from men’s basketball, but in an amazing way. We play hard and with our hearts and there are so many fundamentals. It’s such a different game, so we wanted to show that we have fun watching it.”
Prince and his hitting zone partner Nyara Sabally shared a long hug as the bell rang for the victory over Georgia. Both players have overcome personal adversities, with extreme injuries and difficult moments. Sabally suffered two ACL tears, and in 2018, Prince horribly tore his tibia and fibula during a tournament game in Mexico City, where he had been playing for the United States U18 team at the FIBA championship. Americas.
“I saw a video of us hugging after the game and that describes us and what we’ve been through,” Prince said through tears. “When I got here, we were both so devastated and we didn’t know if we were going to play basketball again. She is a very fun player to play with and I love her very much and I see where we come from and lead.” This Sweet 16 team is amazing and it feels so good. “
Originally from Texas, Prince spent her freshman year at the University of Texas, where she rehabilitated her injury and relocated to Oregon in 2019.
“As you just saw in that interview, how blessed I am to be training a young woman like her. She really is the whole package,” said coach Kelly Graves. “Not only is she a tremendous player, just think about the pressure she has had on her. They have paid a lot of attention to her and supported her. And that is not easy to do. I am very proud of her and happy for her, And the rest of the team.”
The Ducks entered this season in an uncertain spot, losing three starters and welcoming an almost entirely new roster. Last season’s team was one of the favorites for the title, led by superstar Sabrina Ionescu.
But after advancing the first two rounds to claim a spot in the Sweet 16, Oregon is in a position to try to make up for the opportunity the team missed last year.
“It’s been a tough season to handle expectations. Everybody knows what we lost. Everybody knows what we had the opportunity and the ability to do in this tournament last year. It was taken away from us,” Graves said. “And I think sometimes people assume we’re going to continue like this … We have nine new players. In a pandemic year, this is the worst time to have a young team, we just didn’t get a chance to work with them. But From day one I said a hundred times, we are going to be difficult in March. “
Oregon will face No. 2 seed Louisville on Sunday.